Stimulus bill finalized at $789.5 billion

| 2/12/2009

Members of the U.S. House and Senate have agreed to terms on a $789.5 billion bill that will cut taxes and increase spending in an effort to boost the economy.

Conferees finalized language on Wednesday, Feb. 11, agreeing to an amount smaller than the $819 billion proposed in the House and $838 billion proposed in the Senate.

The completed bill is subject to one more approval vote in each chamber before it can be sent to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature into law.

The House Rules Committee was scheduled to emerge with a full copy of the legislation around midday on Thursday, Feb. 12. House and Senate Republicans said they would not vote to release the bill until seeing the final text.

Transportation Weekly, the official transportation publication of Congress, reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation will receive $48 billion in stimulus funds.

Within the DOT fund is $27.5 billion set aside for highways and bridges, which is less than the House’s original request for $30 billion but slightly greater than the Senate’s requested amount of $27 billion.

Other transportation appropriations include $8.4 billion for the Federal Transit Administration; $1.5 billion for surface transportation grants; $1.3 billion for Amtrak grants and upgrades; and $1.1 billion for airport improvement grants.

Infrastructure construction will benefit highway users and truckers by providing better roads. Truckers also stand to benefit by hauling materials for improvements and construction outlined in the bill.

Despite some obvious benefits of improved infrastructure and an increase in freight, not all truckers are happy with the stimulus bill. Some have told Land Line that the bill contains too many non-essential elements or that it doesn’t go far enough for small businesses.

Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said that truckers should let their representatives and senators know how they feel about the legislation and how it affects them.

OOIDA acknowledges that there are provisions in the bill designed to jumpstart the economy and that truckers can benefit from an upswing in the freight they will generate.

– By David Tanner, staff writer